That last comment is a reference to the fact that Furcal will say he's
ready to play, ready or not.
From the tryout taking place this week, choices to replace Furcal in the
lineup are down to Wilson Valdez and Tony Abreu. Valdez started at
shortstop Wednesday, his third start there since Furcal was injured. Abreu
has started twice at shortstop since the injury. Ramon Martinez, on the
team as a utility infielder, is not considered the answer at shortstop
for any length of time. Ironically, he suffered a slight ankle sprain
in Wednesday's game, but said it was very minor.
Valdez is on the 40-man roster but is out of options. Abreu is not on the
40-man roster. One possible scenario is to keep Valdez active until
Furcal returns, then attempt to get Valdez through waivers and keep him in
the organization. A team is more likely to claim him before rosters are
set for Opening Day.
Another option would be to add Abreu, who has emerged as the second
baseman of the future, but that would mean a higher risk of losing Valdez,
as well as necessitating clearing a roster spot for Abreu.
The Dodgers currently have 39 players on their Major League roster. If
non-roster outfielder Larry Bigbie and non-roster pitcher Rudy Seanez are
added, the one needed spot would come by placing injured outfielder Jason
Repko on the 60-day disabled list, which exempts him from counting
against the 40-man limit.
Adding Abreu would mean another player would need to come off the
roster, unless reliever Chin-hui Tsao (already on the 40-man roster) is
substituted for Seanez, who has said he will exercise an escape clause
rather than go to the Minor Leagues. Little said Tsao is still in the
running for the final bullpen spot because Tsao throws 95 mph and has had an
impressive spring (2.53 ERA compared to Seanez's 1.74).
With Valdez batting ninth, Little moved Russell Martin to the second
spot and batted Juan Pierre leadoff for the second consecutive game.
Injury updates: Little said he expects Martinez and Pierre to be
available Thursday night. Martinez turned his ankle stepping on the corner of
second base while taking a throw from Valdez. Pierre fouled a ball off
his right shin in the first inning and exited the game in the third for
Dodgers starter Derek Lowe said he's ready for the season
after pitching five innings against Detroit, proving he's in midseason
form despite serving up a three-run homer to Gary Sheffield, who has hit .471 off him in his career.
Lowe said he does remember a time when he handled Sheffield
"PlayStation," he said.
"I can't wait [for Monday's opener]," Lowe continued. "I feel that everything I tried to
do here has gotten better. I look forward to Milwaukee. I just hope in
the next three games, nothing crazy happens with injuries."
Wills relates to Loney: With James Loney possibly facing a return to
Triple-A after batting .380 last year, the trip to Lakeland reminded
Maury Wills of getting cut in 1959 by the Tigers after he was sold
conditionally for $30,000 by the Dodgers, who didn't think he could become a
Wills was sent back to the Dodgers' Minor League camp and back to
Triple-A for his eighth Minor League season.
"After that rejection, the key was that when I went down, I had great
respect for my manager in Spokane, Bobby Bragan, and I went down with a
good frame of mind and didn't get dejected," said Wills. "That was the
key, because I didn't sulk. I hit .313, and when Bob Lillis slumped and
Don Zimmer broke a toe and they needed a shortstop, I was ready.
"[Loney] knows he deserves to be here on his performance, but he's caught up
in a numbers game. You can't have a prospect like that sitting on the
bench. That's what happened to Willie Crawford and Joe Moeller and they
never developed the way they could have."
Mays replaces Sele: Non-roster pitcher Joe Mays, a former 17-game
winner who has a May 15 escape clause, accepted his role as the sixth
starter, meaning he opens the season at Triple-A.
"I'll go down and stay sharp and be prepared," he said. "The place I
want to be is up here. I feel I belong up here. My arm feels good and I
feel good about myself again, not like the last few years, coming off
elbow surgery. I'm ready to be the Major League pitcher I was in the
Repko surgery a success: Repko's Wednesday surgery to reattach
his hamstring tendons went well, according to the club. Repko said he
will be on crutches for two months and will spend the time at home in
Washington, then rehab with the club.
Coming up: The Dodgers play coast-to-coast Thursday with split-squad
games against the Angels at 7:05 p.m. PT in Los Angeles and the Mets at 10:05 a.m. PT in Vero Beach. Randy
Wolf opposes Hector Carrasco and the Angels, while Mays opposes John
Maine and the Mets.